Mark of the ninja-just barely misses the mark

Greg Adler, Staff Writer

Still screen courtesy of Klei Entertainment

Rating – 41/2 stars

With the price of games constantly on the rise and more often than not requiring more downloadable content (DLC), to get any amount of real entertainment value, players are turning to their XBOX360’s and PS3’s. The only downside is that the chance of finding a game worthwhile is few and far between. Search no further. Klei Entertainment’s Mark of the Ninja moves silently onto the hard drive and swiftly into the most memorable games of 2012.

This 2D, yes 2D, side-scroller makes the player happy that games have roots the like of Super Mario Bros. Klei Entertainment understands that a game, much like a good read can be told from left to right and doesn’t need to be all over the place. This is evident in two of their older titles (Shank and Shank 2). Players take the role of a ninja trying to avenge the death of fallen clan members and with the game’s controls being simple and highly responsive; it is easy to do so.

The ninja bears the mark spoken of in the title, which entitles him to some advanced ninjitsu skills, such as focusing time and moving in a teleport-like manner. The obvious arsenal is accessible to your character, including: darts, a kitana, noise makers and of course a powerful grappling hook. Oddly enough, a shuriken is not among the ninjas weapon arsenal. Intense cut scenes provide a mountain of story to scale and when paired with some slippery slopes that twist and turn the overall narrative, the player will be pleasantly surprised.

Mark of the Ninjaprovides some villains just as devious as the ninja; however, the gameplay provides plenty of silent and deadly ways to dispatch them. These attacks (some that must be unlocked as you play) are cleverly named for the vicious animals they mimic; the prowling spider and the flying bat are among a few.Klei ,whether they intended to or not, gave a playful nod to Hideo

Kojima and his Metal Gear series by providing a cardboard box that the ninja can use at his convenience.
Most games and their developers take the money and run. However, Klei decided to do something completely different and add some elasticity to the gamers’ dollar. For $15, the game packs an enormous value. Once completing the game, the menu invites the player to a “new challenge plus” mode which puts the player back into the game with tougher enemies that have a much higher alertness. They also provide a collection of differently outfitted ninjas bearing a variety of marks providing them some powerful talents. These talents give the player an edge to whatever play style they choose whether stealth or otherwise. Don’t worry, the small studio isn’t finished landing big punches (or kicks). Once the game has been completed they provide the winning player an avatar t-shirt for each mode completed. Mark of the Ninja has an outstanding replay factor that will keep players everywhere wanting to bear the mark…of the Ninja…